All too often, architects and designers spend hours searching for textures and materials to represent their visions. This struggle takes many forms: from scrolling through Google, Pinterest, and databases in search of the perfect texture, to manually creating one over the course of several hours, or even days. In either case, the result is frequently painful, and rarely perfect. A database organized, reliable, free and easy to use is not always a simple thing to find.
Architextures began in 2014 as a library of high-quality image files, with textures submitted by users or created by the platform itself. Over time, the platform’s creator Ryan Canning noticed that, in his professional work as an architect, the array of static image files available online did not meet the specific textures he was looking for in his design projects. Frustrated with the endless process of searching, editing and overlaying textures in Photoshop, Ryan reinvented Architextures in 2019 as an interactive tool where designers like himself could create specified, high-quality textures in seconds. And importantly, being free to use for personal and educational use, with professional accounts available for a small fee to support the tool’s development.
The Architextures digital interface allows you to create new materials quickly, easy, and efficiently, using a range of pattern and parameters. With an ever-growing range of textures and materials in the library, users can generate their ideal patterns, dimensions, joints, tones, colours, and much more. The images can then be downloaded as a basic texture map, bump map or CAD hatch.
It works through a simple, interactive tool that allows users to edit an existing texture on the site, or create a new texture from scratch. In creating a texture, users are given control over all the key features of the material’s appearance via a properties toolbar to the left of the screen. The toolbar is divided into three key areas for the user to control: Pattern, Tiles, and Joints. In the Pattern settings, users are offered 11 patterns to recreate popular patterns and motifs in the industry, with additional parameters to control the angles of lines, and the number of columns and rows in a pattern. In the Tiles settings, users can experiment with the materiality of the texture, with a vast collection of stones, bricks, woods, concretes, metals, and solid fills, all of which can be adjusted by brightness, contrast, hue, and saturation. Users also have full control over the width and height of the tiles, and even the aesthetic of whether the tiles appear handmade or machine-cut. In the final Joints settings, users can choose the material used to join the tiles, as well as its colour and sizing.
Architextures excels due to its intuitive user experience. No additional software or downloads are required, while the app itself responds instantly to parameter changes. Unlike similar services which only display a completed image at the end of the process, Architextures benefits from an interface which allows users to see their texture being created and adjusted in real time. Apart from the extreme time savings, this user-friendly interface has also resulted in the platform appealing beyond its core base of architectural professionals and students, with 3D artists and game designers also joining the community of users.
As the ways in which architects and designers use materials evolves, along with the physical properties of the materials themselves, Architextures will continue to add new elements and features that expedite the user’s workflow, such as frogged brick and standing seam sheets. The site is also investigating the possibility of collaborating with product and material manufacturers, allowing architects and designers to specify and experiment with specific materials far earlier in the design process than usual.
Explore the tool here.